Posts tagged ‘ICC’

A National Headache

The international backlash to the Australian cricket team’s behaviour following their world cup victory has not been a surprise but has been embarrassing. Add to that Shane Warne’s attempted interviews post match and the tournament has ended on a very sour note for most Australian sports fans who applaud their cricketing feats but not their decorum.

This is sadly not the first time the Australian cricket team have behaved in a way that does not befit men who are representing the country. One Australian official in a diplomatic role told this writer that following a tour of India his staff spent a month going around the country mending bridges and apologising for the behaviour of the players.

What compounds the issue is at the celebration the next day in Federation Square,Melbourne the players publicly seemed to revel in the fact that they had been drinking all night. Captain Michael Clarke appeared on stage from the rooftop bar with the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy, and when asked to describe his overriding emotion answered saying, “A little hungover, I think I speak for everybody in that sense. I guarantee you the boys will continue to celebrate today. It’s the Australian way.”

Brad Haddin has since apologised for going on Triple M Breakfast radio in Sydney having been introduced by team mate Steve Smith as the most drunk of players. Haddin on website Cricket.com.au has said that he wished he hadn’t agreed to go on air. “We were celebrating a World Cup win and enjoying ourselves after a long tournament, in hindsight, we should have stayed off the radio. If I offended anyone, it was never my intention.”  The damage has been done as his comments have been spread across the world’s cricket media.

Comments about his team mates which went like this “I’ll paint a picture for you now. I’ve got a coach who’s spooning the World Cup who can’t speak,” Haddin said. “I’ve got James Faulkner who’s got his clothes off but don’t tell everyone. And I’ve got the Marsh boys, and you know I can’t even talk about the Marsh boys because you know what trouble they have. I’ve got Josh Hazlewood … he’s never been drunk in 30 years. It’s a problem. We just can’t get him drunk. He’s an absolute nightmare to drink with.” Totally irresponsible by a man who has been Vice Captain of the national team and therefore was tipped as a leader.

One has say that everyone expects a team to celebrate after winning a World title, as such titles do not come easily. However players must remember that they are held up – whether they like it or not – as ambassadors of this country a country where Cricket is the national sport a sport permuted to reflect gentlemanly behaviour and fair play; although Australia may well debate this quite vociferously. Representing your country, or club comes with responsibilities and sadly for a while now the Australian cricket team have failed to live up to those responsibilities off the field.

The question has to be asked what is CEO James Sutherland done to arrest this? Why have Cricket Australia been so quite in the past few days, while their reputation is being damaged around the globe, or as in India are they expecting others to clean up the mess. Cricket Australia should have had the players in a controlled environment post match and taken the mobile phones off the players while they were drinking, to protect both the players and the image of Cricket Australia.

Now they face a global backlash.  A strong leader would have fined those players such as Haddin, Clarke and others who wore their hangovers with pride and promoted them, they would have then given the money collected to Alcohol abuse related charities and made the players carry out some form of community service, to try and restore the damaged image.

The other thing that would be nice to see is a public apology to the nation by the team. They made many proud with their victory but have embarrassed just as many post match.

All of these things are unlikely to happen, but one thing is for sure Cricket Australia need to take control and ensure that off field behaviour improves and that others do not have to go around cleaning up after these men behaving like teenage boys.

 

 

 

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April 2, 2015 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

No To Big Boy’s Toys. Is There Another Option?

” A big boy needs a big bat” says West Indies opener Chris Gayle in response to the International Cricket Council’s proposed crackdown on the size of bats ahead of the World Cup.

He has received strong support from former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, “I think that if players like Gayle and Warner are strong enough to lift a bat that heavy at that speed, then good for them, it makes the game a hell of a lot more exciting.” He is quoted as saying.

However not everyone agrees. After all the modern game of cricket, especially in Australia has become a game totally dominated by batsman as the wickets already give the bowlers little help. Many remember how tennis has changed dramatically and become all about power rather than finesse since wooden racquets became a thing of the past. Has the power really made Tennis a better game to watch?

Former Australian Test Captain Ian Chappell is one man who backs the ICC in this move. He has said that the increase in the thickness of the willow put the umpires and bowlers at risk of injuries. Not a reason many expected. Chappell however saved his main criticism of the ICC claiming that they had woken up too late and being behind on so many issues affecting the game, including the size of bats.

“At long last the ICC has decided there’s a problem with the bats. They are being hailed as too good and disturbing the balance between bat and ball. This combined with the fact that the ICC also recently decreed that shorter boundaries are contributing to the problem, is a classic case of being way behind the game.” He said.

One has to agree, and if the ICC does not soon start monitoring the state of the wickets prepared and ensuring that there is something in them for the bowlers we are likely to see the standard of bowling dip even further than it already has at international level in the past ten years. What incentive is there for a bowler to toil so hard when the odds are stacked so heavily against them.

Another change we have discussed on the show on many occasions is that the ICC should take away the restriction on the number of overs bowled. Batsmen do not have to retire at 50, so why should a bowler have to stop after 10 overs. People want to see a battle between bat and ball, and if a team has a bowler like Glenn McGrath who is hard to get away, or a Shane Warne pinning down one end why should they be prevented from using them? If the game is going to become more of an even contest then something has to start going in favour of the bowler.

As for the size of the bat, it has impacted the game. Has it had a positive impact? Some will say yes, as has been shown, but for everyone who says yes, there will be another who says no.

February 10, 2015 at 1:38 am Leave a comment

Winning Needs Some Perspective

For the past fortnight in India every newspaper is full of speculation on the Cricket World Cup, and whether the current World Champions can retain their trophy. Turn on the television and there are replays of previous tournaments, interviews with former World Champions, it has been wall to wall cricket as the country works itself up into a frenzy.

There are however some who feel that Australia may well have exposed fans to simply too much cricket prior to the World Cup, with the Test Series with India, The Big Bash League and then the Tri-nation series. Some believe that despite losing to Australia, India should have taken a break from playing ‘down under,’ and the players should have returned home for a couple of weeks break with their families before looking to defend their title.

This brings into question what is the perfect preparation for a tournament such as this. It has now become the norm that all the competing nations have warm up games against each other, games attended usually in the main by those unable to get tickets to the actual world cup games. Games in which neither side wants to reveal too much, saving their best for the tournament itself.

If India is under pressure how must South Africa feel having been warned by their Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula that they better not fail, and forbidding them to ‘become a bunch of losers.’ This comment was made during their official send off.

“we don’t want you in the World Cup to add numbers and just become a bunch of losers.” he was quoted as saying. He went on to say “You are not going to be playing with robots. You are playing with people. You are the special ones. You are the chosen ones. It does not mean you are irreplaceable but all of you are capable of doing the duty for us.”

Not happy with these inspiring words he continued by reminding the team of previous losses at previous World Cups. Proving that he is no Nelson Mandela when it comes to stirring inspirational oratory.

Having already labelled the national football team a bunch of losers a year ago, no doubt his words were water off a duck’s back to the players, but they can hardly have helped their preparation.

One team not expected to win a game is Afghanistan, competing in their first World Cup. Cricket has miraculously skyrocketed in popularity since the Taliban permitted the game to be played in 2000. A year later the ICC welcomed them to international cricket as an affiliate member.

Their preparation has faced a different set of problems as coach Andy Moles, who played for Warwickshire explained. ” I spoke to one of the players who was late to our late camp. I asked him the reason why he and he turned around and told me that he had to go to the funeral of his cousin who was shot dead by a drone.”

It would appear that many teams this time around are having their own set of problems when it comes to preparation for the World Cup, but for the sake of the players and everyone back in war-torn Afghanistan it would be great if sport can show just who wonderful it can be, and they could record a famous and unlikely victory to help the game grow and lift the spirits of the people back home. If they can that will be the equivalent of them winning the cup itself, and will hopefully give the tournament and certain politicians some perspective.

 

February 9, 2015 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

ICC to Review Reviews

It used to be that cricket was a Gentleman’s game. A sport where players did the right thing, and if they didn’t they were a bit of a cad. Even if the likes of the great WG Grace tried to pull the wool over the umpires the umpire still had the last word.

There was very little gentlemanly in the exchange between England’s fast bowler and Indian batsman Ravindra Jadeja

After reviewing the incident The ICC has confirmed that it will not appeal the decision relating to James Anderson after the England paceman’s Trent Bridge controversy with India’s Ravindra Jadeja.

Anderson and Jadeja, batting at the time, had exchanged words as the players left the field during the lunch break. It was then alleged that this exchange of words had escalated into a more serious disagreement, out of the public’s view, when inside the inner sanctum of the pavilion.

Following a hearing the retired Australian judge Gordon Lewis and ICC judicial commissioner he adjudged the pair “not guilty” of breaching the ICC’s code of conduct following a disciplinary hearing in Southampton last Friday.

Indian officials were furious with this outcome and BCCI secretary advised the media that they had written to the ICC stating their displeasure with the decision. He also confirmed that they had highlighted flaws within the hearing process. India having no right to appeal on the decision, only the ICC, who are in fact the prosecutor, being the only ones with that right.

Yesterday the ICC announced that it would not be appealing the decision, one that could have seen Anderson banned for four test matches had he been found guilty. “This outcome is the result of two exhaustive and thorough disciplinary processes and, after considering the written decision, the ICC is satisfied with the manner in which the decisions have been reached,” ICC Chief Executive David Richardson is quoted as saying

He went on to say “It was a complicated and sensitive matter relating to charges brought against two players at different levels of the ICC Code of Conduct. There appears to have been vastly conflicting evidence on both sides, with a total of 13 witnesses who gave testimony. After carefully considering the decision by Gordon Lewis, whose vast experience was invaluable to the process over recent weeks, we believe that no further purpose would be served by prolonging the process through further appeal proceedings.”

Just as when cricket was a game played by gentlemen, and if there was doubt over a decision it always went in favour of the batsman – one that has now been completely eroded thanks to technology – it would appear that a man’s right of appeal has been stripped away as well.

However Richardson did give players who feel aggrieved a window of hope when in true administrative view he stated “As a matter of best practice, the ICC will now review the procedures as set out in the Code and reflect upon the comments made by Gordon Lewis in his decision about how a case of this nature might better be provided for in the future.”

Surely one such way is to give the accused or at least those involved in the incident the right to appeal and not have that fall solely to the powers that be?

 

 

 

August 7, 2014 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

The Politics of Sport or is it the Sport of Politics?

There are many who will say that there is no place in sport for politics. Yet ironically sport has been used frequently by politicians to gain favour. It was a sporting boycott that resulted in South Africa slowly dismantling the apartheid system. Then Nelson Mandela used it to unite a country that had been torn apart by Apartheid. John Howard was a frequent visitor at the Sydney Olympics to try and improve his public persona. He is not alone as both US and Russian presidents love to be seen involving themselves in sporting activities.

The funny thing is nowadays very rarely do countries boycott sporting events as 62 nations did with the 1980 Olympics Games after Russia invaded Afghanistan. In 1984 Russia returned the favour by having 14 countries boycott the Los Angeles Games.

There were calls for a boycott of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa because the then President Thabo Mbeki refused to denounce the intimidation and violence being used by neighbouring country Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe. There were calls to boycott the Beijing Olympic Games due to China’s Human Rights violations and their policy on Tibet. No boycott happened. There are now calls that Russia be stripped of the 2018 FIFA World Cup after the shooting down of the commercial aircraft Malaysia Airlines MH17, and the appalling handling of the incident on the ground. The chances are no boycott will happen as sport is big business today.

Over the years there have been many athletes make political statements. One of the most famous was the gloved salute made by sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico Olympics at the medal ceremony for the 200m. It is often reported as a “black Power salute” but Smith maintains it was a human rights salute.

The two US athletes received their medals wearing no shoes and black socks as a symbol of black poverty. Carlos had his tracksuit unzipped to support blue-collar workers, and wore a necklace of beads which he claimed was “for those individuals who were lynched or killed and no one said a prayer for, that they were hung or tarred.” All three athletes including Australian Peter Norman wore “Olympic Project For Human Rights” badges, Norman claiming it was a stance against Australia’s  all white policy at the time. Carlos and Smith were sent home in disgrace, Norman was never picked to run for Australia again.

At the 2003 Cricket World Cup Zimbabweans Henry Olonga and and Andy Flower announced that they would wear black armbands for the “death of democracy” in their homeland. Olonga was dropped after one game – allegedly due to form – Flower continued to play. Olonga had an arrest warrant put out for him and was charged with treason, a charge that carries the death penalty. Their actions were supported by the world’s media.

Many sportspeople have made other political statements, many have used the Nazi/facist one arm salute, – a gesture given by the whole England football team in 1938 – in modern times most have immediately received suspensions.

England cricketer Moeen Ali has now created a storm by wearing wristbands  that carried the wording “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine.” Many expected him to be banned for making such a statement in a sporting environment, such as during a test match. However the 27 year old muslim all rounder has simply been told by the International Cricket Board not to wear them again. The word is that the England Cricket Board were prepared to let Ali continue to wear them during the third test in Southampton. However they have had to bow to the ICC who deemed its international sports arena was not the place for the British Muslim to show his solidarity.

So the question is why is it OK for politicians to use sport to gain favour and popularity, or make a global statement, yet the athletes ability to air their own views are not quite so clear. Is it OK for an athlete to use his position in the public eye to make a political statement, to raise awareness on an issue they feel strongly about? Is there a time when this is OK, or is it never OK?

Whenever we turn on football today we will witness players from a Catholic background cross themselves before entering the field of play. It has become accepted. What would people’s reaction be if a muslim player knelt down, bowed and kissed the turf before entering the field of play? Would that be deemed an action likely to incite violence, or is it in fact now a political gesture, thanks to the Americans deciding that in place of Communists the enemy they must defend their citizens from are now muslims?

To be honest it is all a storm in a tea cup. One of Australia’s iconic athletes Cathy Freeman proudly displayed the Aboriginal flag as well as the Australian flag when she was victorious despite being told not to do so. The Aboriginal flag not being deemed a national flag by Athletics governing bodies. Most in Australia understood why she did so and few were offended.

Was this a political statement, or was it just Freeman celebrating her success with the Aboriginal people?

After the Sydney Olympics, Cathy Freeman was used as proof that sport could be used as a means of political expression for oppressed peoples.

Yet according to Colin Tatz, professor at the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of New South Wales, Australia. “No one should think that her performance will lead to 150,000 little aboriginal girls getting up and taking up sport. The area where Cathy Freeman comes from still has no electricity, no sewage system, and suffers from huge health problems. The average lifespan for women is 55 years, for men it is 50. Cathy Freeman did not make a difference.”

People remember the statements made by athletes but do their actions make a difference? In Olonga and Flower’s case despite their gesture Zimbabwe still does not have a democracy. So why all the fuss by those in power?

July 30, 2014 at 9:02 am 1 comment

Suspension Will Hurt More Than a Fine.

On the eve of the third and final test in Cape Town between Australia and the Proteas the ICC delivered its verdict on Australian David Warner’s controversial radio interview in the aftermath of the second  Test in Port Elizabeth that Australia lost.

Warner was charged with a level-one breach of the ICC’s rule that demands players and coaches refrain from criticism of or “inappropriate comment” regarding opponents or match officials.

He was duly fined 15 per cent of his match fee – $2880. He could however have been fined up to 50 per cent.

Many believe that the whole issue was a storm in a tea cup, but one has to say that the whole issue showed that the game’s governing body the ICC is a toothless tiger.

A fortnight before this punishment Warner was contracted by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League for USD 880,000. Therefore a fine of $2800 is going to be almost loose change and unlikely to be much oaf a deterrent to prevent him making similar statements; that also applies to other players receiving similar payouts from the IPL. Therefore if the ICC is serious about reducing such outbursts and restoring cricket to be being a game played by gentlemen, or at least players with gentlemanly values, then they should look to suspend players rather than fine them.

If a replacement player comes in and performs it will make it harder for the suspended player to return to the side, and therefore when he does he will think twice before opening his mouth in the future.

One thing that is interesting is David Warner seems to thrive on controversy and one has to wonder whether he does not in fact come out with these statements to fire himself up as he always seems to deliver in the next test. In the recent Ashes series he made unfortunate comments about England’s Jonathan Trott during the first test for which he was criticised. He then scored 83 not out in the second innings of the second test to steer Australia to victory by 218 runs. In South Africa following his fine he blasted a quick fire 135.

Warner has a reputation now for shooting his mouth off, but surprisingly although he has been the subject of disciplinary action from both Cricket Australia and Cricket New South Wales in the past, his fine in South Africa is only the second time he has attracted punishment from the ICC. The other time was when he received a reprimand for dissent after standing his ground and then shaking his head after he was given out leg-before in a one-day Interenational against Sri Lanka at the SCG in January 2013.

 

March 4, 2014 at 10:23 am 1 comment

Bouncers on Menu at ICC Meeting

The ICC meeting that is about to start in India is likely to be one of the most heated for many years.

The proposal by the Boards of India, Australia and England to take over the complete functioning of the ICC, as opposed to just the allocation of revenue as was reported in September of last year, has not gone down well. South Africa, the current world number one test team would be one such nation on the outside. So far most of the Board members in India have been extremely tight-lipped about what is to transpire when the meeting commences on the 28th.

The word is that the ICC is considering a comprehensive structural overhaul and the proposal is that those important decisions be left to the BCCI(India) CA (Australia) and ECB ( England & Wales). Currently the ICC distributes 75% of its revenues to its 10 full member boards and the remaining funds are distributed amongst the Associate and affiliate members.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has understandably been the first to voice their opposition to such a move as it could be the death knell for them as a cricketing nation. Already having to play all their series outside of their home country, any cut in revenues would be extremely harmful. They fear that  the plan is to divide world cricket into two divisions, and that it may be their fate to be placed in the second tier. With no way of raising monies with home series, that may seal their future fate in the overall scheme of things, until political stability returns to Pakistan.

New Zealand Cricket has interestingly backed such a move. NZC Board member and former Test Cricketer Martin Snedden has been quoted as saying that he does not see New Zealand being “disadvantaged or “downgraded” by such a move. Although if the two-tier system does come into play New Zealand could find itself in the second tier or relegated to that level in due course.

The big plus for this system is the Associate members may be able to push for a spot at the  Test Match table.

One other matter on the agenda is the Future Tours Programme. Interestingly just over a week ago cricket luminaries such as Rahul Dravid, Steve Waugh, Anil Kumble, Shaun Pollock, and Mike Brearley who are all members of the MCC’s World Cricket Committee met and stated that the Future Tours Programme must be binding. Lately several tour schedules have been changed. India curtailed their series with South Africa to accommodate a series against the West Indies. Several other nations have altered the schedule dropping Test matches in favour of extra one day internationals or T20 matches. So it will be interesting to see the views of the ICC on this particular issue, and whether they take heed of the MCC’s committee.

The same committee stated what may seem obvious to many fans, that T20 competitions were the most likely to be open to corruption. They received a presentation from the IPL’s Sundar Raman on the anti corruption measures that have been put in place to minimise such eventualities. The committee has suggested that the ICC implement a system whereby it becomes a requirement for any global T20 competition to sign up to a minimum set of anti-corruption standards. These to be provided by the ICC’s anti Corruption and Security unit. Only then should the ICC sanction the tournament.

The MCC Committee also backed a World Test Championship which has been on the table for a number of years. They believe this is essential to safeguard the future of Test cricket. However it is the cricket broadcasters, the people who pay to air these games, who are loathe to support such a concept. The ICC was looking to have this commence in 2017 and the word is that this date may be pushed back. The MCC Committee believe that the ICC should commit to at least the top two ranked test teams in the world contesting a final in 2017.

As if these issues were not enough to be discussing, also on the table is the proposed move of the ICC’s head office from Dubai to either Singapore, Cardiff or Colombo. There is no chance of the ICC will leave the jurisdiction of the United Arab Emirates in the immediate future, – a location where it has been based since leaving Lord’s back in 2005, – however in a working paper, the ICC’s financial and commercial affairs committee states: “Under UAE laws it is not necessary for the management to be located in the same jurisdiction. The question is which location will suit the power brokers from India, England and Australia? Singapore may well get the nod being almost a mid point between them.

Interesting times ahead for cricket. Will the various boards listen to the MCC’s committee? Unlikely as a power struggle is in the offing, if not, expect plenty to be said post meeting

January 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm 1 comment

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